The Challenge Cup begins

The 2018/19 Challenge Cup gets underway this weekend when the Ospreys welcome Pau to the Liberty Stadium for a 3pm Saturday afternoon kick-off.

Ahead of the campaign, we run the rule over our Pool 2 rivals, beginning with this week’s opponents…



Full name: Section Paloise Béarn Pyrénées

Where: On the northern edge of the Pyrenees and capital of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques Département in the region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine, the city of Pau is located 100 kilometres (62 mi) from the Atlantic Ocean and 50 kilometres (31 mi) from Spain

Founded: 1902

Home venue: Stade du Hameau (Capacity: 18,324)

Coach: Simon Mannix

Pedigree: 3 times French Premiership champions (1928, 1946 and 1964), Pau have twice reached the Challenge Cup Final, defeating Castres 34-21 to win the silverware in 2000 then losing 27-3 to Sale Sharks five years later

Head-to-head: This will be the first time that the Ospreys and Pau have met

Last season: Lost to Cardiff Blues in Challenge semi-final in Challenge Cup after topping pool unbeaten and defeating Stade Francais in the last eight

Season so far:  Currently sitting 10th in the T14 on 17 points after four wins and three defeats in the opening seven games and are just four points behind Lyon in third. Warmed up for Europe with a 12-9 win over bottom club Perpignan on Saturday


Worcester Warriors 

Full name: Worcester Warriors Rugby Football Club

Where: Located on the banks of the River Severn, Worcester is just 120 miles from the Liberty Stadium

Founded: 1871

Home venue: Sixways Stadium (Capacity: 11,499)

Coach: Alan Solomons

Pedigree: Runners-up in the 2008 final, losing 24-16 to Bath, Worcester were also semi-finalists in 2006 and 2009, failing to progress past the pool stage in the last nine years

Head-to-head: The sides have met three times in competitive fixtures, all in the Anglo Welsh Cup, with the Ospreys winning two and losing one. The most recent fixture saw Worcester come out on top in the snow at Sixways in a game that finished 24-14 in February 2012

Played for both: Tevita Cavubati, Matt Jones, Sam Lewis, Josh Matavesi, Joe Rees, Ed Shervington, Jonathan Thomas, Nikki Walker, Andy Williams and Ashley Beck

Last season: Bowed out in the pool stage, finishing third behind Connacht and Brive, but ahead of Oyonnax

Season so far:  Worcester are seventh in the Gallagher Premiership after six rounds of action, Saturday’s huge 52-7 win over Bristol Bears their second victory of the season


Stade Francais

Full name: Stade Francais Paris

Where: Paris is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometres (41 square miles) and a population of 2,206,488

Founded: 1883

Home venue: Stade Jean-Bouin (Capacity: 20,000)

Coach: Heyneke Meyer

Pedigree: French champions on 14 separate occasions, most recently 2015. Runners-up in the Heineken Cup in 2001 and 2005, and in the Challenge Cup in 2011 and 2013, they eventually won European silverware in this competition two years ago, defeating the Ospreys in the last eight before defeat in Bath and Gloucester in the semi and final.

Head-to-head: The sides have played five times in European action, the Ospreys with a win and a draw at the Liberty Stadium to Stade’s two wins in the reverse fixtures in the Heineken Cup, prior to the Challenge Cup knock-out win for the French in 2017

Last season: Defeated 35-32 by Pau in Challenge Cup quarter-final after pipping London Irish to the final runners-up spot in the last eight 

Season so far: The Parisians have made an impressive start to the season, winning five from seven to go second in the table on 23 points, two behind leaders Clermont Auvergne. On Sunday they recorded a 14-9 away win over fifth placed Castres